Everything You Need to Know About the Dakota Access Pipeline Conflict

Everything You Need to Know About the Dakota Access Pipeline Conflict

The USACE permitted a fast track construction despite knowing the significance of the land.
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I’m sure most of you have heard about the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in some form or manner. Whether it is in the shape of the hashtag #NoDAPL or seeing celebrities such Shailene Woodley getting arrested over it, there has been no consistent media reporting on this topic. For those unaware, the Dakota Access Pipeline would be over 1,100 miles long and carry crude oil from fields in North Dakota to a port in Illinois. Here’s a brief timeline of the conflict:

February 17th, 2015: “The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the federal government body in charge of the nation's waterways, sends a letter to the Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO), initiating the permitting process.” Even though the THPO replies that they would like an investigation of the lands due to its historic and sacred value, the USACE does not respond.

January 25th, 2016: Dakota Access, a subsidiary of the Texas-based company Energy Transfer Partners in charge of building the pipeline, announced publicly that they have received permission of the North Dakota Public Service Commission to build the pipeline.

April 22nd, 2016: The Army Corps finished their investigation over claims that significant tribal lands were being harmed by concluding that the pipeline will have no impact on those sites.

July 25th, 2016: “The Corps issues the final fast-track permit (Permit 12) needed to continue pipeline construction in the 200-odd sites across four states in question.” Despite the pipeline being only half a mile away from the Missouri River, the environment assessment by the Corps found no impact.

July 27th, 2016: The lawyers for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe officially filed a complaint against the USACE to block the construction of the pipeline.

September 3rd, 2016: The first major clash between the Dakota Access workers and the protesters of the pipeline. The protesters were pepper sprayed and the issue started to gain more national attention.

There are two major problems with this entire ordeal, first: the USACE is required to have the Standing Rock Sioux’s input throughout the process because of the National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106) which they did not, and second: if the pipeline ever leaks, it could lease toxins into the Missouri River which is Standing Rock’s only source of water. Both are extremely substantial concerns, especially considering the sacredness of the land involved.

The land was originally “accorded” to the Sioux tribes in 1868, but it was taken back by the U.S. government bit by bit through legislation without proper Native representation. Because of this, Section 106 was created as the right to be consulted. It states, “Whenever a federal agency undertakes or approves a construction project, it must consult with local Native nations or tribes about whether sacred sites or places are nearby.”

Not only that, Congress even states that the Native tribes should be consulted even if the lands does not belong to them as long as they have sacred beliefs or significance attached to the land. In this case, not only were the Sioux leaders not involved in the paperwork, they rushed to start the construction before the investigation of the sacred sites was even conducted. The legal team for the Standing Rock had evidence that the site had an Iyokaptan Tanka constellation which indicated that a venerated Chief was buried nearby. To ignore this information demonstrates blatant disrespect by the US Army Corps of Engineers, an extreme source of anger for many.

But apart from a historic and sacred point of view, this pipeline can be detrimental for the water source of Standing Rock. Anything harming the water source would violate the Clean Water Act as well as the National Environmental Policy Act. Interesting fact: the pipeline was originally selected to go through state’s capital Bismarck, but the U.S. Department of Interior worried that a potential oil spill could poison the drinking-water supply for those people. So what was their solution? Move it half a mile away from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation where it could still potentially poison their only water supply.

This is exactly what makes the entire situation so bizarre, the USACE is inflicting the same onto the Native Indians what they are trying to protect the others from. As the conflict has escalated, the protestors have been faced with dogs, pepper sprays, and even armed police for simply demanding to have clean water and not have their ancestors disrespected.

It is not hard to stand in solidarity with Standing Rock. To help, please contact your Congressional Representative or Senator and tell them to oppose the easement of Army Corps of Engineers. Just remember, if you wouldn’t want a pipeline going through a regular American graveyard, then you cannot be okay with a pipeline going through theirs. To learn more, please visit: http://standingrock.org/news/call-for-support--sta.../

Cover Image Credit: The Nation

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.
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It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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We're All Thinking It, I'm Saying It: Too Many People Are Running For President

I'm all for options, but man, do we really need 24? I mean, I can barely pick a flavor of ice cream at Baskin Robbins let alone a potential President.

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There are, currently, 23 Democrats running for President. On the Republican side, there's, of course, Trump, but only one other candidate, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld. Democrats have a whole range of people running, from senators to congressmen, a former vice-president, and even a spiritual advisor. We can now say that there are DOZENS of people running for President in 2020.

Joe Biden has been leading the pack for quite some time now. He was even leading polls before he announced his campaign. Although he is the frontrunner, there really is no big favorite to win the nomination. Biden has been hovering around the mid-30s in most polls, with Bernie Sanders coming in second. Other minor candidates in the hunt are Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris.

After the surprising defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016, Democrats have become electrified and have a mission to take back the White House after winning back the House of Representatives in 2018. There are so many people running in 2020, it seems that it will be hard to focus on who is saying what and why someone believes in something, but in the end, there can only be one candidate. This is the most diverse group of candidates ever, several women are running, people of color, the first out gay candidate, and several more.

There could be a problem when it comes to debate time. I mean, the first debate is next month. Having around 20-plus people on stage at the same time, debating each other kinda sounds like a nightmare. How can someone get their point across in the right amount of time when someone else is going to cut them off? Debates are usually around an hour and a half. So, if you divide it up, each candidate would get just under five minutes to speak. That would be in a perfect world of course.

Democrats seriously believe that they can beat Trump in 2020. They say they have learned from the mistakes of 2016, and have the guts and the momentum to storm back into the White House. By July of next year, there will be only one candidate left. Will they be able to reconcile the divide during the primaries? We will see. It will surely be a fun election cycle, so make sure to have your popcorn ready and your ballot at hand to pick your favorite candidate, no matter what party you lean towards.

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